Monday, September 19, 2011

What the Commonwealth Youth Games means to Wales

Sport Wales' Sarah Powell blogs about the Commonwealth Youth Games - its importance and Team Wales' success.

So what is the CYG?
The Commonwealth Youth Games is as the title suggests - the junior version (14-18yrs) of the Commonwealth Games. This maybe a younger version but don’t be fooled; the standard and competitiveness is as high and fierce as expected when you bring together 64 countries and a 1000 competitors.
Wales was one of the smallest teams with only 31 competitors, but not the smallest. Niue had only one competitor - not sure ‘team’ fits here!  Our usual rivals of Australia and England had teams four times bigger with more than 70 competitors but as you will soon see it’s certainly not size that matters in these things.
So why do Wales take part?
This is the biggest multi sport event for the youth age group and is the stepping stone for athletes aspiring to win Commonwealth medals at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014. This is not just theory, ask  Jazz Carlin, Jemma Lowe and Georgia Davies who all won medals in the CYG in Pune 2008. They then stormed to the podium at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
Believe me when I say this, transfer of success is not going to be a one off. Remember the medallists named below as I’m happy to put a bet on them featuring in the medals in Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The CYG provides the perfect dry run for athletes, coaches and support staff.  This is the nearest to the real thing that these athletes can get - they experience the build up, the pressure and excitement that is part and parcel of a large multi sport event.
So who’s Team Wales?
This is made up of athletes, coaches, team managers, physio, doctors, media and members of the Commonwealth Games Council for Wales. The Commonwealth Games Council for Wales  is the internationally recognised organisation that selects and delivers the team at the Games.  Superbly organised, experienced and committed, they leave no stone unturned in pre-games preparation and games delivery to make sure the team has no distractions and gets what they need to be successful.  The team spirit and camaraderie that is built up amongst the competitors and support staff certainly give Team Wales that extra edge.
So what happened?

With only 31 athletes, Wales won 26 medals. It makes for an impressive ratio of medals won v no of competitors .  Wales competed in 6 of the 7 sports involved: athletics, badminton, boxing, cycling, gymnastics and swimming. We did extremely well in all the sports missing out in the quarter finals of the badminton and then winning medals in boxing, swimming, cycling, athletics and gymnastics.
This reinforces not only the depth of talent but also that it is diverse across the sports. If you look at medals on a per head of population basis, then we top the table. There are too many medallists to mention but we started with athletics gold on day one in the 1500m and finished with a swimming gold on the last day in the last event - the men's 4 x 200m freestyle relay. 

 It would be remiss of me not to mention the family and friends of all the competitors that travelled out to support individual athletes but also the whole of Team Wales. The power of this cannot be underestimated and the number of Personal Bests reflects this.
So what next
Well for those that tasted success and you are many, enjoy! Remember and crave this again, as winning will hopefully become a habit. For those not so successful this time, remember that selection is a great achievement. Use this as the opportunity to train that little bit harder, or believe in yourself that little bit more because you were there for a reason, because you have the potential.
The talent in Wales is proven. It’s now down to you and your support teams to take that to the next level and deliver success at senior level.
For the sports themselves, what could be better than two home games, London 2012 Olympics and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. A once in a lifetime experience, let’s ensure we maximise every opportunity to show off what in my view is the most amazing product in the world – sport. Be assured the next CYG athletes will be watching!
The medals:
Gold - Ieuan Lloyd 200m freestlye
Gold - Ieuan Lloyd 200m IM
Gold - Ffion Price 1500m athletics
Gold - Angel Romaeo individual all-around gymnastics
Gold - 4x200m mens freestyle relay - Ieuan Lloyd, Oliver Tennant, Lewis Smith, Dan Woods

Silver - Sara Lougher 50m Breaststroke
Silver - Ieuan Lloyd 100m freestyle
Silver - 4x200 girls freestyle
Silver - Carys Mansfield javelin
Silver - Calum Evans boxing
Silver - Owain Doull Road Race
Silver - Elinor Barker Criterium
Silver - Raer Theaker, Beam
Silver - Raer Theaker, Bars
Silver - Cycling girls team in time trial
Silver - Girls gymnastics team event

Bronze - Josh John boxing
Bronze - Mitch Buckland boxing
Bronze - Elinor Barker time trial
Bronze - Girls team in road race
Bronze - Boys team in road race
Bronze - 4x100m freestyle relay girls
Bronze - Sian Morgan 400m freestyle
Bronze - Ieuan Lloyd 400m freestyle
Bronze - Harry Owen gymnastics individual all around
Bronze - Angel Romaeo bronze vault